A Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Hail, O Lady,
Mary, holy Mother of God,
Who are the Virgin made Church,
chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven
whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
all fullness of grace and every good.
Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Dwelling!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!
And hail all You holy virtues
which are poured into the hearts of the faithful
through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,
that from being unbelievers,
You may make them faithful to God.
An undated work, this prayer is a reflection Francis wrote in honor of Mary and is unique in many ways. For example, in the first stanza of the prayer, Francis refers to Mary as the “Virgin made Church,” a title that is original to Francis. He sees Mary as the first to “house Christ,” the first to be, literally, part of the Body of Christ. Likewise, the Church, the Body of Christ, is called to house Christ today in the hearts and works of all the faithful.
Advent is a time of expectation and waiting. But not an ordinary kind of expectation and waiting – an active expectation and waiting.
What does that mean? When we wait for the bus to come or the phone to ring, we expect the bus to arrive so we sit and wait, we expect the phone to ring so we hold it in our hand as we wait for it to do so. There is no action on our part; we are very passive in this process. Advent calls us to be active participants in the waiting. Advent is not a liturgical season to just sit and wait passively for the birth of Christ on Christmas Day, expecting it to happen, but taking these weeks to prepare ourselves spiritually for when that great expectation is made manifest in our life. Then we’re called to make that great joy and Christ’s presence known to others through our words and deeds. We won’t be able and ready to do that unless we prepare ourselves to be worthy of this gift.
For Francis, the Blessed Mother was the epitome of what it meant to be a faithful follower of Christ. As we progress through this liturgical season of expectation and waiting, may we work each day to actively and intentionally prepare ourselves to be ready to present ourselves at the manger. And when that time comes and we welcome the newborn Christ into this world, may we willingly take on the Christian challenge of bringing Christ to birth in our world each and every day thereafter through the way we live with and love one another.
Fr. Jason Lody, FCM
St. Anthony of Padua ANCC (Centreville, VA)